Sometimes collaborations just work: fish and chips, Lillee and Thompson, Dolce and Gabbana, Simon and Garfunkel – the list is long and varied. Add Yvonne Lyon, Gareth Davies-Jones and David Lyon to the list. On July 1st, they released Trace The Line as a second collaborative album following 2016’s The Space Between. There are ten tracks, glorious melodies to the fore, from the uplifting opener ‘Unconditional’ (”Love is unconditional”) to the closing ‘Revolution’ with its worked-up percussive backing and a plea “O give us the courage to dance again/ Revolution”.
In between, ‘Trouble’ will have you joining the chorus with an Americana/bluegrass blend and ‘In The Riot of Love’ (David Lyon) will have you joining a slower paced melodic treat, ‘The Mystery Inside’ (Yvonne Lyon) will have you rising your own vocal to the title line at the end of the chorus. Intermingled with these tracks, are three from Gareth Davis-Jones, which would have fitted in last year’s album Truth Tradition Prophets and Loss but add a different tone to the Lyons’ songs on Trace The Line and thereby make the whole album richer for this combination of songwriting styles.
How to express how wonderful these melodies are? Old Grey Whistle Test (OGWT) famously got its name from whether the Tin Pan Alley doormen could whistle the tune after a couple of plays. I have an unanticipated update to this – PPHT, the Passing Partner Humming Test. As I was playing Trace The Line I heard the melodies coming back to me from the kitchen – my partner having picked up on the tunes and humming/singing them. This is a first. That’s how good the melodies are.
Three skilful songwriting musicians collaborating as though they’d always been meant to, Trace The Line has been arranged and mixed to give a slight edge to its delicate smoothness, with guitar, fiddle, mandolin tracing delicate patterns in the melodies. Well worth the listen, both to hear the songs and also for the inexorable desire to join in.
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